Secrets of the Nurburgring: Jaguar's Test Center - DRIVEN

Uploaded by drive on 05.12.2012



JF MUSIAL: As an aviation buff, I've always been
fascinated by things like Lockheed Martin
Skunk Works, Area 51.
And the best comparison I can make to the Nurburgring,
especially this little road in front of us, this is the Area
51 of cars, what they call The Industrial Park.
These are the best cars in the world are fine-tuned,
developed, and really come to life.
Well, Jaguar invited us out here, one of those very rare
opportunities to go see things you don't ordinarily see.

JF MUSIAL: So this is one of those rare opportunities where
you drive a car you never expected to ever
drive in your life.
Not to say that this car is anything special.
It is a production Jaguar XKR-S. It's a top of the line
Jaguar coupe.
It's a V8 supercharged, over 500 horsepower, 0 to 60 in
about 4.3 seconds.
But the fact remains is that this is a very special Jaguar
XKR-S. This is the car that actually Jaguar used to set
its Nurburgring lap time record, 7 minutes 51 seconds.
JF MUSIAL: This car, though, has actually done 5,000 miles
around the Nordschleife.
And from what they tell me, that's the expected
performance lifetime of the vehicle.
And that said, driving it right now, I'm assuming
they've changed a few of the parts here and there.
Feels just like any other production car.
Feels clean, feels fit.
But we didn't come all the way here to drive an XKR-S on
German country roads.
We came here to get behind the scenes of Jaguar's Nurburgring
test facility.

Phil Talboys, head of Jaguar's European Test Operations, was
on hand to give us a tour.

PHIL TALBOYS: So this is the main workshop for when we're
testing cars and engineering cars.
The engines are all tested and we provide autobahn testing.
This is where it all happens behind closed doors.
JF MUSIAL: So this is the area that not many
people get to see.
We don't normally bring people back here.
You get to see the front of the house, but not
the back of the house.
JF MUSIAL: At the very forefront, I
look at this place.
It actually looks kind of modern.
It's not that old.
2003 is when this facility was opened.
I mean, Jaguar's been coming here for 20 years.
But not on this scale.
So 2003, we opened this facility.
And then this is our busiest year ever this year from an
engineering and a marketing point of view.
So I think that signifies and indicates the direction the
company's going in.
Nurburgring's become more important, maybe some would
say more relevant.

We don't want to over Nurburgring a car.
JF MUSIAL: You were the first manufacturer to actually set
up shop here, right?
The first dedicated building.
PHIL TALBOYS: One of the first.
JF MUSIAL: One of the first in 2009.
PHIL TALBOYS: Yeah, if you look at the intro part, we're
at the front of it.
So we were one of the first manufacturers with a dedicated
facility here.
JF MUSIAL: The term used is the Area 51 of car
Seems like you get to the Nordschleife, and you get here
for the race.
I've been there for the 24, I've been here for a bunch of
beyond races.
But then hidden away in this little area is a bunch of car
Americans, Japanese, Germans, British.
It seems like car companies have their home bases.
But a lot of the testing happens here.
PHIL TALBOYS: Yeah, I think the Nurburgring sees--
there's 16 industry weeks per year.
And you'll see literally hundreds of prototypes from
all different companies out there.
JF MUSIAL: This is one of the cars that's sitting here that
is quite obviously something special.
So it's matte.
But it's what's inside that's actually very cool.
Do you want to have a look?
Tell me what's--
PHIL TALBOYS: So we built this this year as, let's say, fun.
It was built as a taxi car for PR and marketing purposes.
So we take VIPs and journalists around the
Nordschleife in this, and it's a bit like a roller coaster if
you have a look inside.
JF MUSIAL: Full cage.
PHIL TALBOYS: Full cage and bucket seats
in the back as well.
JF MUSIAL: And it's a specialized cage, too, for a
sedan so that you can get guys and girls in the backseat.
PHIL TALBOYS: Specially designed so you can still get
in the back, yeah.
JF MUSIAL: I've never seen a four door sedan with bucket
seats in the back, Recaro race seats in the back.
Even the barf bag for--
it's awesome.
PHIL TALBOYS: Like an airplane.
JF MUSIAL: Any fun stories, interesting stories?
PHIL TALBOYS: Only ones involving people filling the
small bags that you've got in the doors.
JF MUSIAL: Really?
That's actually been used?
PHIL TALBOYS: Yeah, hence why they're there.
I mean, it's a long way.
It's 30 miles.
And if you've never experienced it before--
JF MUSIAL: It's worse than a rollercoaster.
PHIL TALBOYS: It's quite an assault on the senses if
you're doing a nine-minute lap in this car.
Sat in the back and you don't know what's
coming in the crests.
Yeah, some people, it gets a bit much for them.
JF MUSIAL: How many cars could you actually fit in here at
any particular time?
And how many have you?
PHIL TALBOYS: This year, our busiest week this year, we
were running around 28 actual test cars.
28 test cars.
And then alongside that, you've got the support cars
that come with them, so the team cars for the guys
to get around in.
On a PR event tomorrow, I think we've got 36 cars
running around.
So we can cater for--
look after quite a lot of vehicles in here.
So you've been saying, it's been increasing.
A lot more work is going on in Jaguar.
Why is that?
Why do you think that is?
PHIL TALBOYS: I think we've got lots of new models, not
just all new models like F-Type coming out, but also
new variants of different models coming out as well.
We've recently launched all wheel drive XJ,
all wheel drive XF.
And so we're starting to fill in.
JF MUSIAL: Do you have to test each one of those variants?
PHIL TALBOYS: Yeah, and every variant has to come here.
Every variant gets tested.
JF MUSIAL: So you may only have four models, but each
model has--
PHIL TALBOYS: Each variant of each model gets the same test.
JF MUSIAL: So you literally have upwards of 16 different
vehicles in terms of tests.
And then within each vehicle, there's different systems you
have to test.
So you may have different cars with different things.
PHIL TALBOYS: You've got different-- if you use engine
calibration example, although you've got XF all wheel drive,
XF steering, you know, engine calibration works different.
Same for stability control.
So yeah, the number of variants and the amount of
engineering needed soon rattles up.
And it's getting quite an astonishing number if you
start to think about it.
And the amount of people you need to do it.
JF MUSIAL: So show me around.
What else is there to see?

So what's with these cars?
PHIL TALBOYS: This was an action X durability test car
for X car S convertible.
This was here last year doing a 5,000 mile, which is 290
laps, test.
We keep that now as another demonstrator.
JF MUSIAL: Wait, what are the lines?
Is it just to watch gaps?
So we monitor the panel gap.
So we monitor it for alignment and base direction.
So we measure at the start, and then just keep an eye on
it when we're driving.
And if you have a look at the car, the whole
thing's marked up.
JF MUSIAL: So cages in these cars, XFs that
look kind of normal.
What's the deal?
PHIL TALBOYS: So these are our two driver training cars.
So any engineer that works for Jaguar that wants to actually
test on the Nurburgring has to pass a two-day pass-or-fail
driving test.
Within the entire company, there's less than 30 people
that are licensed to test on Nordschleife.
JF MUSIAL: Licensed being--
PHIL TALBOYS: As in from an internal license.
JF MUSIAL: You can't take a prototype or a pre-production
car onto the track until--
PHIL TALBOYS: In the industry pool, until you've passed the
test and got the license.
JF MUSIAL: Really?
JF MUSIAL: So then within the industry, you're actually
teaching pro drivers or engineers how to properly
drive on the track because these guys are good drivers.
You're not doubting that.
It's just about learning that track.
PHIL TALBOYS: It's about learning the track.
I mean, it's 13 miles long, over maybe 74 intercepts.
It's about teaching them the correct line, the safe line,
how to deal with the traffic, the protocols of driving with
the manufacturers out there, show them respect.
And then for then the driving on the track to become natural
so then they could focus on assessing the car, tuning the
car, and doing what they actually need to come
out here and do.
JF MUSIAL: And how many people actually have--
so it's a "license", quote unquote.
In order to be a test driver on the Nordschleife, you have
to go through this process.
How many people within Jaguar actually qualify to drive
prototypes on the track?
PHIL TALBOYS: There's less than 30
throughout the entire--
JF MUSIAL: And you're one of them?
PHIL TALBOYS: I am, yeah.
JF MUSIAL: So you're one of the cool guys
in the town, right?
PHIL TALBOYS: So yeah, less than 30 people have a license
to drive prototypes on the Nordschleife.
So it's quite a unique club.
JF MUSIAL: Exclusive.
PHIL TALBOYS: I think this year, we trained four people.
So if you think of how big the company is, and four people.
I get quite a few emails.

JF MUSIAL: So what are actually in these crates?

PHIL TALBOYS: All these crates are full of brake discs and
pads to support the testing that happens here.
And I think as you can or maybe can't imagine, if a car
does it full down the Nurburgring--
JF MUSIAL: You've got calipers, you've got rotors.
How many rotors will you go through in a
typical day of testing?
PHIL TALBOYS: One car at the end of the day, it will
definitely have a set of pads, definitely
have a set of tires.
May have a set of discs depending how much work
they've done.
If a durability car turns up, it will turn up with two boxes
like that full of discs and pads.
JF MUSIAL: For one car?
PHIL TALBOYS: For one car,
JF MUSIAL: And you'll have 28 cars here.
PHIL TALBOYS: Hundred tires.
Yeah, and we'll have 28 cars.
Not all 28 cars will have this much support because they're
not all doing durability.
But yeah, all the cars that come here, as you can imagine,
if they're being driven on the limit.
Discs, pads, tires are heavy consumable.
JF MUSIAL: We're here on a Sunday, so it's quiet.
But on a normal day, this is pretty much packed, right?
JF MUSIAL: Yeah, a normal day, you'll have cars in and out.
The door will be up permanently--
JF MUSIAL: So we wouldn't be allowed to film in here.
PHIL TALBOYS: You wouldn't be allowed to film inside, no.
JF MUSIAL: I'm sure there are a few things hidden away
somewhere around here.
PHIL TALBOYS: Behind that door.
JF MUSIAL: So this is a very expensive operation when you
think about it, for each particular car in terms of
people, manpower, parts, supplies, and technicians just
to keep care of it.
And then let's not forget, you have a 13 mile track that you
have to rent out.
It's fairly expensive to get these cars going.
PHIL TALBOYS: Yeah, it's a big investment to come and test at
the Nurburgring.
JF MUSIAL: I don't want to ask for numbers, but it's
PHIL TALBOYS: Yeah, substantial investment to come
and test here.
I think you get a lot out of it as well.
JF MUSIAL: I was also lucky enough to get a ride with one
of Jaguar's test drivers, Sascha Bert.
He's the guy that actually set the lap record for the XKR-S
on the Nurburgring.
So how many laps have you done in this
Jaguar, out of curiosity?
SASCHA BERT: I do the Jaguar events now for two years.
I organized driving activities for all the [INAUDIBLE].

And I did many, many laps now with this car.
And I enjoyed it.
Each kilometer, I enjoy because I was
testing many cars.
But Jaguar is a special car, so you have so much torque in
the engine.
You have such a nice sound, and the car give you great
feedback when you are braking.
And when you're turning, the car is so precise.

The package is really, really strong.
JF MUSIAL: It's good for getting sideways.

JF MUSIAL: So we're coming up to the carousel here.
What was your first impression when you first drove it?
SASCHA BERT: The carousel?
JF MUSIAL: How do you drive it properly?
SASCHA BERT: So the carousel is also a thing where
you have to go in.
Then you have to stay with your left front wheel on this
straight thing.
And look with your eyes where you want to drive.
And then the exit you have to take like that.
JF MUSIAL: Got it.
So when you go out and you test a car-- a race car or a
production car, whatever it may be--
what is it that you're feeling in the car to see
if it's set up right?
What do you feel?
SASCHA BERT: You have to develop the
suspension and the spring.
This is important to you.
And you feel if a car have good traction or if a car is
precise turning, or if a car, when you change direction,
or the car is stable.
And all this stuff, you have to analyze and drive with your
engineers to find a better setup.
JF MUSIAL: Is it the spring and damper the most important
part of the setup?
SASCHA BERT: Also, yeah.
Some range and other stuff.
But the spring and damping are really important.
JF MUSIAL: Is that what the Nurburgring really provides
the best feedback for?
JF MUSIAL: Spring and damper, suspension setup.
And then tires, I guess?
SASCHA BERT: Tires also.
JF MUSIAL: Well, Sascha, thank you for the ride.
I appreciate it.
SASCHA BERT: Thank you.
Thank you.
JF MUSIAL: You going to be back racing
here soon, next year?
JF MUSIAL: Another 24?
SASCHA BERT: 24 hour and wheel end races before
the 24-hour, I think.
JF MUSIAL: These cars are pushed well past the limits of
most customers' abilities.
But you've got to keep in mind that Jaguar's not purely a
performance brand.
It's about luxury as well.
So they're not just tuning these vehicles to be the max
of what they can do.
They're not going for lap records.
If they were going for lap records, this car would be
almost unbearable to live with on a daily basis.
See, these engineers, their job is not only to make sure
things don't break when you buy it, but also to really
balance out the right formula, to make sure that it's got the
performance, but you can live with it every day.
That's ultimately the key to their success--
luxury performance vehicles, fast, beautiful cars.
And you can do benchmark testing, you can do all these
crazy things to make sure that the parts, the components, the
sum of the equation makes sense and doesn't break down.
But, it's really about the people who sit in the seat I'm
sitting right now who define what the car feels like-- its
characteristics, its emotion.
Those are the guys that really define what the
brand is as a vehicle.
There are so many different characteristics you have to
put into making a car, so many different equations, so many
different people.
But it only falls on about 30 of the Jaguar engineers and
test drivers to really define how it drives.
That's what I think makes this whole area special.
The people that come here for weeks, months on end to test
these vehicles, to push them to the limits are the ones who
are really defining the automotive industry.

I was here for the 24 last year.
And it was amazing to see how many people show up.
SASCHA BERT: Yeah, 250,000 are here.
JF MUSIAL: Is it distracting seeing them
on the side, camping?
SASCHA BERT: When you're driving, you can't see anyone.
Only you smell the sausages on the grill.
But you can't see the spectators, because you're
really, really focused and concentrated on your driving.
JF MUSIAL: Ever go out in between your stints,
hang out with them?